New Bachelor Thesis Assignments

Does it show when someone has hostile intentions? When in doubt, replicate!


Detecting deviant behaviours that precede and are related to crimes can help prevent these crimes. Research suggests that the psychological mindset of wrongdoers may differ from others, such that they are more anxious, self-focused, and vigilant. As a result, their responses to environmental cues, specifically those that signal risk of exposure, may differ.

In an earlier study (Wijn, Van der Kleij, Kallen, Stekkinger & De Vries, 2017) participants with high (vs. low) cognitive load walked a pre-defined route to carry out a hostile or non-hostile task. En route, participants were exposed to a cue (vs. no cue) resembling police walkie-talkie static noise (Study 2). Reactions during the task were recorded and presented to independent observers to determine the participants’ intent. Participants with high (vs. low) cognitive load who were exposed to a strong (vs. mild or no) cue while carrying out their task were more often correctly identified by observers as either innocent or hostile based on their behaviour.

Although these results can be considered a success, their importance for practitioners, such as security personnel, requires a far greater degree of certainty than would normally be the case. Significant results should be considered mere indications rather than absolute scientific proof. The current project therefore focuses on replication of the reported effect; does it really hold in the face of accumulating evidence?

As described in the above, the current thesis project aims to replicate and, possibly, extend earlier findings reported in Wijn et al. (2017), by conducting a carefully designed experiment. It is part of an ongoing research project inspired by the Replication Crisis in psychology, by staff at the dept. Psychology of Conflict, Risk, and Safety.

This project is open to more than one student


Hostile intent; SPOT technique; deviant behaviour; replication crisis


Please contact Jan Gutteling ( when you are interested in this assignment.


2017/2018 Semester 2


Weinberger, S. (2010). Airport security: Intent to deceive? Nature, 465(7297), 412-415.

Wijn, Remco, Van der Kleij, Rick, Kallen, Victor, Stekkinger, Michaël, & De Vries, Peter W. (2017). Telling friend from foe: Environmental cues improve detection accuracy of individuals with hostile intentions. Legal and Criminological Psychology.